A House Subcommittee that’s started the impeachment process of Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage for sexual misconduct says it needs more time to investigate the allegations against him.
However, at a voting meeting on Monday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts did vote to make a criminal referral to Attorney General Josh Shapiro based on the testimony it’s collected thus far in the investigation.
Halcovage faces impeachment after 4 Schuylkill County Courthouse employees accused him in a 2021 federal lawsuit of sexually inappropriate conduct while in office over the course of nearly a decade.
The Commissioner has continually denied these allegations in public. And Halcovage has resisted calls for him to resign from his fellow Commissioners, other Courthouse row officers, and Schuylkill County’s representation in Harrisburg.
House Subcommittee Says It Needs More Time on Halcovage Impeachment Investigation
The House Subcommittee formally opened an investigation into the allegations back in January. That was after State Reps. Jerry Knowles (R-124), Tim Twardzik (R-123), and Joe Kerwin Jr. (R-125) introduced House Resolution 99 in 2021, that called for Halcovage’s impeachment and removal from office.
While some may have expected the Subcommittee to have moved this matter forward and another step closer to an impeachment trial in the State Senate, Chairman Paul Schemel (R-Franklin County) announced it needed more time. A vote was taken to authorize the Subcommittee to issue subpoenas and seek more testimony as part of its investigation.
“I understand that there are number of individuals especially those in Schuylkill County would like to see a quick resolution to this matter and are frustrated with the fact that it has dragged on for some time,” Schemel said. “The subcommittee acknowledges that.”
He added that a lack of precedent on impeachments by the State government and the ongoing federal lawsuit involving all the same parties in this investigation have complicated matters. Schemel said only 2 previous impeachments ended up going the distance, as it were. All other impeachments tended to “remedy themselves” when the public official involved just resigned.
“We are trying to move through it,” Schemel added. “We do believe that there’s adequate evidence to move forward with the investigation to complete that practice.”
The Chairman said it’s still the Subcommittee’s intent to complete its investigation and potentially move the matter all the way through the House and to the Senate before the end of this legislative session. That process would include the Subcommittee making a potential referral on impeachment to the Judiciary Committee as a whole, then to the full House, and off to the Senate for a trial.
Last week, the Subcommittee took testimony from several witnesses in this investigation. However, Halcovage did not appear before Subcommittee members.
At Monday’s voting meeting, Rep. Joe Hohenstein remarked on the witnesses that did appear before the Subcommittee.
“I cannot imagine how difficult this must have been for them to come out and tell us their stories,” Hohenstein, the Subcommittee’s ranking member said. “And I want everyone to know who is connected to this process that we are taking this situation very seriously. I appreciate the courage and the bravery that was exhibited by our witnesses last week. Everyone deserves a safe and professional workplace where they do not live in fear and not subject to abuse and are not exploited by people in powerful positions.”
Regarding the other vote on Monday, a previous criminal referral to Shapiro’s office on this same matter resulted in no charges against Halcovage.
Coal Region Canary has attempted to reach Halcovage attorney Gerard Geiger for a statement the Commissioner released over the weekend regarding his absence from this House investigation. We’ve not heard back but will release that statement promptly.